SharePoint 2010 cheat sheet

How to find your way around SharePoint 2010 and make the most of its collaboration features.

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What's new in SharePoint 2010

Like much of the Microsoft Office family, SharePoint 2010 is based around the concept of the Ribbon, Microsoft's interface that displays all of the options, choices and operations you can perform on any given page. It differs a lot from SharePoint 2007, which didn't have the Ribbon, but many of the same options are there -- just in a different place.

The Site Actions menu. This is where all of the action happens, literally. From here you can create new pages, document libraries and SharePoint-based sites; edit the pages you see; synchronize an offline copy of the site to the SharePoint Workspace application (assuming you have that feature as part of Office 2010); and access settings to customize the sites' accessibility and permissions. To change major aspects of sites within SharePoint or to create new items, you'll probably want to go to the Site Actions menu first.

The Credentials area. This menu, accessed when you click on your display name in the top right corner of the Web page, is where you sign into or out of a site, and where you change any user-modifiable sections of the Web page.

The Ribbon. Borrowing liberally from Office 2007 and Office 2010, SharePoint includes the Ribbon, a panel at the top of the window where almost all of the functions possible on a given page are grouped and displayed. Most SharePoint pages have the Browse tab turned on by default, which gives you a breadcrumb-style hierarchy. In other words, it helps you to navigate among pages on the site and see how you arrived at the current page. The Ribbon is also context-sensitive; it shows you different options depending on where you are within SharePoint. So if you're in a document library, the Library Tools Ribbon panel will appear; if you're in different types of lists, other tools will show up in the Ribbon.

The Quick Launch bar. Running along the left side of your SharePoint Web page, this bar helps you jump among the various parts of your site, including to different lists, libraries, discussion areas, picture collections and the site Recycle Bin. (This works exactly like the Windows recycle bin except it holds items from the SharePoint site only.) Another option is to see a full tree-like view of all the places on your site.

The Search box, where you can type in any sort of search query, click the magnifying glass icon to the right and then take advantage of the indexing engine on the site to get comprehensive results from any file that includes your search term.

Creating a document library

The most common use for SharePoint is as a document repository. You and other team members and colleagues can put documents and files all in one specific place, accessible to everyone, and then avoid the all-too-familiar email blasts with Word documents attached.

(I would wager that if you never saw another "please disregard the previous message, I've attached the correct newest version of the file here" message pass through your inbox, it would probably not be too soon.)

You can then simply email hyperlinks to documents on the SharePoint site when collaboration needs to happen. As users modify and update files, the latest version -- as well as previous versions, if you wish -- along with all of the history of who revised what, and when, is stored in a single place.

To get started serving up and sharing documents and files in SharePoint 2010, you will probably need to create your own document library. This is fairly straightforward.

  1. Open SharePoint in your Web browser.
  2. From the Site Actions menu (remember, this is at the top left of your window), click New Document Library.
  3. The Create window appears. Enter a friendly name and a useful description of your new library. (See example.)
  4. Decide whether this library should appear in the Quick Launch bar -- the navigation aid that appears to the left in most SharePoint Web windows.
  5. Choose whether or not a new version of the file is created each time someone edits a file in this library. When in doubt, choose yes; you would be amazed how often this versioning history comes in handy.
  6. Finally, select the type of template that will become the default if someone chooses the New File option on the ribbon within your library. This is not an important choice, as a document library can hold just about any type of file.
  7. Click Create to close out and be taken directly to your new library.

Uploading and interacting with documents

Once you're in the document library, you can very easily upload new content to the library by clicking the Add Document link at the bottom of the middle pane.

When you do, the Upload Document window appears.

Here, you can select the single document you would like to upload, or you can click the Upload Multiple Files link; this will open a new dialog box with a hotspot where you can drag and drop multiple files from a regular Windows Explorer window to upload. You can also just browse normally for files one at a time and add them to this group. You can click OK and then the group of files will upload directly to the library.

If you have enabled versioning, you can add version comments here as well, for a reader-friendly description of what has changed in this new version of the file you are uploading. Click OK to finish out, and you'll see the newly uploaded file in the list with the green "new" symbol just beside it.

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